Diplomatic Cadre Make Bridges—Politicians Break Bridges

Shazia Anwer Cheema


Yesterday I happened to watch a speech of the interior minister of Pakistan Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, where he was talking about women’s empowerment, while delivering his speech, without any context, literally out of the blue he mentioned Hungary and Albania with reference to the road network and job market. His exact statement was “Roads are not so important. Hungary, Albania, and Yugoslavia (former) had excellent road networks but no jobs for people”.

Some time ago one of our Federal Minister Dr. Shireen Mazari gave a statement about the French government and then she had to delete her Twitter statement after receiving an exceptionally harsh reaction from French Embassy. Another minister Murad Saeed who holds the office of Federal Minister for Communications and Federal Minister for Postal Services kept mentioning that there was large-scale corruption involved in CPEC projects during PMLN rule. His statements made serious embarrassment for the Chinese who had to clarify again and again that no corruption was found in CPEC. After such allegations, the CPEC went to a “go slow” pace and still facing the same situation. Recently Federal Minister Murad Saeed got the first prize of performance among all federal ministers.

The official spokesman of the Prime Minister has been crying that western countries are behind the Vote of No Confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan without citing any name of any country therefore the entire west (European Union and North America) is looking at Pakistani politicians. According to my understanding, they (western diplomats) are asking each other “are you behind the conspiracy against Prime Minister Imran Khan?” They look disgruntled and annoyed. Prime Minister himself criticized western countries indicating that they are hatching conspiracies against him because he said No to them to stand with western countries over the Ukraine issue and he told them “Absolutely Not”. This statement would definitely help the ruling party domestically and politically but its consequences at the diplomatic level are too far-reaching. We are good enough for self-inflicting habits but should we not think about our Diplomatic Cadre who contribute their lives to protect the interests of the country abroad?

Almost a decade ago during discourse analysis class in Kinnaird College Lahore, our module teacher gave us a speech of Bush Senior. I still remember that she introduced Halliday, Hassan, and a few others to explain how a well-written discourse can be studied on multiple layers. I was amazed to figure out the implication of the forthcoming war for peace by George Bush Senior.  There were no direct commentary/indications but between the lines and beyond the line analysis extracted how statesmen narrate certain agendas with prescribed diction, time, space, and pace.

The obvious question surfaced in the class who does that for statesmen and our teacher told us then that world politicians and officeholders take advice from a team of experts, like linguists, semioticians, cognitivists, and communication experts. The process is simple. First, an agenda has been set by a different group of people who set that agenda by gathering information from yet another group of experts and when everything is designed, then comes the group of semioticians and cognitivist to engineer that given agenda in different modes of communication.

I do not want to buy the justification of our politicians being illiterate, having no diplomatic wisdom, and lacking in a higher perspective. This cannot be a justification to face the diplomatic blunders they made. The world does not understand our internal inability to hold an important office, they can not grasp the magnitude of incompetence our so-called democratic governments possess. Our electoral cabinets are comprised of individuals who are unable to think beyond their businesses. Democracy is a profession for them, they invest to be elected and they spend their entire tenure in minting profit.

Public speaking is the shortest suit for a money man, they simply don’t care what to say and how to say it. That’s why we see a never-ending circus in the name of domestic politics, I am immune to that, keep on name-calling, character assassination, throwing cheap shallow puns to each other. As Pakistani, we don’t care but when these mouths start discussing external issues with the same insensitive approach, our diplomatic carder suffers an immense amount of pressure and at times humiliation.

In the speech of a statesman, each word must be measured and properly thought out. Leave aside teams of experts for all the political officeholders at least a few key seat holders must not say anything on the spur of the moment, without sensing the sensitivity of diplomatic oration. Comments about different countries without any advice is providing ample ground to our enemies to nurture hate-infused disrespect for our spokesmen. Another grey that is being ignored is that no one will take us seriously because what we say is not even worth a bar brawl.

Since I study in eastern Europe (Czech Republic) I have several friends from Albania and Hungary in my university. I have been traveling to all these countries and I must advise Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Sahib to visit Hungary and look at the developments and well-mannered youth and economically healthy society before just passing such comments which are neither accurate nor relevant.

I wish to include one suggestion from Aristotle who advised his pupil Alexander the Great of Macedonia that never pass a comment against any other nation (creed, caste, race, ethnicity, state/country) unless you live with them and once you live with them, you will know who they are. Once you will know them, they will listen to you what you say otherwise they will call you Just a fool who knows nothing about them. I know Prime Minister Imran Khan spent half of his life in the western country, having a western wife and western children but he never worked in their system so he doesn’t know how difficult is, in order to deal diplomatically and how much our diplomatic cadre works hard to make or find a place in western countries where our enemies are present with huge resources.

Our politician must unlearn the culture of early morning sorry after half-cooked, high-headed statements of the previous night. You have to be clear-headed 24/7 because you people are running a state. My personal experience with a couple of diplomats reinforced my fear that our neighbor’s diplomats have acquired much more space in their host countries, which obviously makes their job easy. Their heavy investment in terms of kind and cash gives us hard time to be heard, published, and mediate abroad. I have no doubt that our embassies are working beyond their capacities, but the problem is, that all the efforts get destroyed with just one blow of a stupid, high headed statement. The irony of the situation, our history witnessed when our prime minister decided to educate our diplomats in his own style, yes that too turns out to be an early morning sorry, but states cannot be run while having mood swings. Our country is already functioning on auto mode, let it be like that, if politicians cannot ease out our diplomatic tensions abroad, the least they can do ease, is stop discussing foreign policy when they are enjoying their happy evening hours.

There is a saying that if you do not know the art of making friends then please do not learn how to make enemies.


Shazia Cheema is a foreign affairs expert

Note: Writer Shazia Anwer Cheema is a Prague-based author of books and foreign affairs expert who writes for national and international media. She is a doctoral student. Researcher in semiotics and philosophy of communication at Charles University in Prague. She heads the DND Think Tank. She can be reached at her: Twitter @ShaziaAnwerCh Email: shaziaanwer@yahoo.com


The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

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